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A Connection to Power: On Art, Land, and Food Sovereignty

Thursday, February 28, 2019 6:00 pm

Peoples and communities have the right to maintain their own spiritual and material relationships to their lands...this implies the full recognition of their laws, traditions, customs, tenure systems, and institutions, and constitutes the recognition of the self-determination and autonomy of peoples. Declaration of the International Forum for Agroecology, Nyéléni, Mali, February 27, 2015

What possibilities in art and community-centered agriculture contribute toward re-establishing dispossessed people’s relationship to land as a means to reclaiming the commons and undoing settler-colonial structures? A Connection to Power: On Art, Land, and Food Sovereignty features artists, activists, and urban farmers discussing movements around indigenous land rights, black liberation, food justice, and art in the midst of climate change.

Organized and moderated by Hemi Artist-in-Residence Alicia Grullón, in association with VoltaCares and the Volta Art Fair, panelists include Sheryll Durrant from the Kelly Street Garden in the South Bronx, artist and activist Marz Saffore from Decolonize This Place, and Indigenous rights activist Monte Stevens Jr. from the Colorado River Indian Tribes. This is an evening framed to consider artistic practices and growing food as acts of self-defense and essential to surviving devastating environmental changes. A reception will follow.

Hemispheric Institute
20 Cooper Square, fifth floor
New York, NY 10003

Alicia Grullón, a 2018-2019 Hemi Artist in Residence, directs her interdisciplinary practice towards critiques of the politics of presence, arguing for the inclusion of disenfranchised communities in political and social spheres. She is co-organizer and co-author of the People’s Cultural Plan, a coalition of artists, cultural workers, and activists responding to New York City’s first ever cultural plan in 2017. Her work has been shown at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, El Museo del Barrio, Columbia University’s Wallach Art Gallery, BRIC Arts, Spring/Break Art Show, and Performa 11, among others. Grullón is also a contributing author to Rhetoric, Social Value and the Arts: But How Does it Work?, ed. Nicola Mann and Charlotte Bonham-Carter (Palgrave Macmillan, London). Recent activities include the Shandaken Project inaugural artist residency on Governors Island and the Bronx Museum of the Arts AIM Alum program at 80 White Street. Grullón is an adjunct professor at School of Visual Arts (SVA) and City University of New York (CUNY).

A former marketing executive, Sheryll Durrant is an urban farmer, educator, food justice advocate, and a graduate of Farm School NYC. A 2015 Fellow of the Design Trust for Public Space, Durrant is currently the Garden Manager at Kelly Street Garden, and Farm Coordinator for New Roots Community Farm, managed by International Rescue Committee (IRC) — both in the South Bronx. Named by Food Tank as one of the Leading Food System Thinkers, Durrant’s work has been featured in The New York Times, WNYC, Yes! Magazine, and Ecowatch. Kelly Street Garden was recognized by the United Nations as one of only 3 gardens in North America for the "Feed Your City" initiative in 2017. As director of the urban farm and garden program for Sustainable Flatbush, Durrant developed community based urban agricultural projects in Brooklyn including a medicinal and culinary herb garden as an outdoor classroom on the grounds of The Flatbush Reformed Church, in partnership with Sacred Vibes Apothecary. She has presented workshops and talks at the MET Breuer, Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference, Just Food, and Green Thumb Grow Together Conference.

Marz Saffore is a co-founder and co-facilitator of Decolonize This Place (DTP), an action-oriented movement centering around Indigenous struggle, Black liberation, free Palestine, global wage workers and de-gentrification, and a member of MTL+ Collective. Since 2016, DTP has organized an Indigenous Peoples Day/Anti-Columbus Day tour of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Saffore is currently working on a PhD in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Art & Art Professions at NYU Steinhardt.

Monte Stevens Jr. is a water protector and proud member of the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Grandchild of Radical American Indian Movement activists, Stevens was raised with future-oriented parents who provided a foundation for their political views around Indigenous people, queerness, settler-colonialism, white supremacy, and academic supremacy. Stevens’ resistance has been through their existence as a femme queer Indigenous individual. Involved in direct actions against the Army Corp of Engineers on the atrocities at Standing Rock, Stevens has extended their activism in New York City to support efforts to build decolonization commissions in NYC museums, and to repatriate stolen artifacts to Indigenous communities. Stevens is currently pursuing social work studies at New York University.

VOLTA New York is a contemporary art fair comprised of solo projects by leading and emerging international artists. VOLTA Cares was initiated in 2018 as a multitiered social programming outreach by the New York fair to more meaningfully connect with all levels of cultural purveyors, from public school students to patron collectors.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. A photo ID is required to enter NYU buildings and 20 Cooper Square is a wheelchair accessible venue.